My husband, Orv, was 57, I was 46, my daughter was a senior in high school, and my son had already moved out on his own. Orv and I were ready for an empty nest until we received a phone call from Orv’s brother, asking us to take in his 9-year-old son, Roberto.
Roberto was born in Mexico, and he stayed there with his mother when his parents parted. However, because of an abusive stepfather, Roberto went to live with his father and older brother in Arizona at age 7. Due to health issues and friction between the boys, Orv’s brother asked us to raise the younger boy.
Within a week, we were parenting a third-grade child with black hair, brown eyes, and a Spanish accent. He flew into Omaha by himself with a suitcase, a stuffed dog, a video game, and a cap that said “I Don’t Get Mad, I Get Even.”
Roberto was quickly accepted in our town, and soon a group of his friends were spending time at our house. At first, though, Roberto thought his teacher was mean. He didn’t see why he wasn’t allowed to stay up until 2 a.m. to watch television, or why he should do his homework. Things eventually changed, as did our boy, who began going by the name Robert.
Robert joined Cub Scouts, and the boys and their dads spent time camping. Orv also spent hours with Robert at home shooting hoops or playing catch. As a Little Leaguer, Robert was a star pitcher, and he remained an outstanding athlete all through high school.
Ours was Robert’s third home, and English was his second language. He had started school in Mexico, transferred to Tucson, Arizona, and then moved to Iowa. Parts of his education were a bit spotty, but since I was an elementary teacher, I was able to tutor him. He learned quickly, and by junior high, he was ahead of me in some subjects. In high school, we were quite proud of him when he became a member of the National Honor Society.
He is out on his own now, and we are proud of him, as well as our other two children, who have given us five grandsons, who are all grown. Now Robert is a father himself. He has the cutest 4-year-old little girl who is independent and bright – and the center of attention at family gatherings.